The Fitness Machine That Shook Up My Pilates Routine for the Better

I’m taking an exercise class at Moving Strength, a boutique Pilates studio in New York City, and, well, I’m struggling. My body feels like it’s buzzing with electricity. My triceps are burning, my quads are shaking, and my heart rate is growing quicker. Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t my first time trying the core-strengthening workout; I’m actually a Pilates devotee. But most of the time, I know what I’m getting when I take a class. I expect the Hundred series and some Reformer-supported leg circles. Now, my go-to routine is suddenly getting shaken up—literally—with the help of the Personal Power Plate.

The Personal Power Plate, which launched this past January, is a smaller, more portable version of the Power Plate. Both machines feature a vibrating platform that’s meant to amplify any type of workout, not just Pilates, by challenging one’s strength, balance, circulation, and flexibility. It’s almost like an electronic version of an old-school step (yes, the kind used for 80s-style dance aerobics).

According to the tool’s makers, research has shown that whole-body vibration exercise offers a wealth of health benefits, from improved body composition and bone metabolism among postmenopausal women to reduced pain and fatigue in female fibromyalgia patients.

RELATED: Conquer the Weight Room: 5 Machines You Should Know How to Use

Still, I wasn’t totally convinced that my workout would benefit from the addition of an unstable surface. After all, aren’t planks tough enough already? Spoiler alert: The Personal Power Plate made them (and a slew of other classic Pilates exercises) tougher.

My one-on-one session with Moving Strength founder Patricia Ruiz began with a quick stand on the plate to get a feel for the way it vibrated. From there, we graduated to a core series. I sat on the edge of the machine with my feet placed flat on the floor and a squishy ball propped between the plate and my lower back to create a standard Pilates C-curve in my torso.

power-plate

Only it wasn’t so standard once we pressed the start button and the machine started to shake—my abs had to work so much harder than usual to remain stable, especially as we added variations to the mix, like leg lifts and cross-body reaches.  

Other seemingly simple exercises were also amped up when we added the Personal Power Plate to them. Side lunges done with one foot resting on the shaky platform challenged my balance. Mountain climbers performed with my hands placed on top of the plate required extra activation in my upper arms.

RELATED: 3 Pilates Moves for a Flat Belly

For me, the 30-minute session was just enough to get my heart rate up and my muscles fatigued, which is precisely Ruiz’s intention for the Power Plate Pilates class.

If you encounter a Power Plate product (either the larger version that comes complete with handlebars, or the scaled-back platform model I tried) at your gym, don’t be intimidated. While elite athletes and fit celebs are fans of the machine (Serena Williams and Sting included), you don’t need to be cut to cop their benefits. Even just resting your calves on top of the platform while it vibrates is a great way to massage muscles and speed recovery, said Ruiz.

While I may not integrate the Personal Power Plate into every one of my Pilates workouts moving forward, there’s no question that the tool put a spin on my sweat session. For fitness buffs looking to shake up their routine, I think you’ll get good vibrations from the gadget.  

5 Yoga-Inspired Shoulder Openers

Feel like you’re forever tightly wound? We feel you. You have a good reason to crave that deep-tissue massage after a stressful day at work. Research shows that we carry certain emotions, like anger and anxiety, in our head, neck and shoulders. Over time, that chronic stress leads to tense knots in our upper body.

That’s why we designed this shoulder-opening yoga sequence to help you relieve stress and set the tone for your day. Amanda Valdes-Mosier, a head yoga instructor at Laughing Lotus in New York City, breaks down five different tension-taming asanas (poses) so you can have a soothing reset to your day.

5 Yoga-Inspired Shoulder Stretches

Photo: Tiffany Ayuda / Life by Daily Burn

1. Cat and Cow

This restorative asana is a great dynamic stretch for opening your chest and shoulders. Valdes-Mosier recommends the pose for warming up the body for future yoga exercises and for creating mobility in the traps, deltoids and biceps. Here, Valdes-Mosier turns one of her wrists out; this can help relieve tension after sitting at your desk and typing for hours. “In addition to opening your shoulders, this pose also strengthens your sides and mid-back. Stacking your shoulders provides stability,” Valdes-Mosier says.

How to: Get into a tabletop position with your hands and knees flat on the floor. Keep your neck in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor. One of your wrists can be facing out toward the wall in front of you (a). Take a deep inhale. As you exhale, round your spine and scoop your abs upward. Keep your shoulders and knees in the same position. Release your head toward the floor (b). As you take another deep inhale, reverse the curve in your spine by lifting your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling. Your tummy should sink toward the floor (c). Exhale and return to the neutral tabletop position. Repeat for 10-20 breaths (d).

RELATED: 275 Exercises to Shake Up Your Workout Routine

Photo: Tiffany Ayuda / Life by Daily Burn

2. Gomukhasana

Also known as the cat face pose, Gomukhasana stretches your shoulders, triceps, hips, thighs and ankles. While this yoga pose is a bit advanced, you can modify it by using a strap (see below).

How to: Sit on a yoga mat with your knees bent and both feet on the floor. (If you have trouble sitting with your knees stacked, you can sit on a folded blanket or block for support.) Slide your right foot under your left knee, so your left leg is crossed over the right and your knees are stacked (a). As you inhale, sweep your right arm behind you, rotating your arm inward so your fingers point toward the floor, and your right hand is between your shoulder blades (b). Next, stretch your left arm forward. Then, turn your left palm up and bend your left elbow behind you with your left hand reaching for your right (c). If you can, hook your right and left fingers together, or hold onto a strap on both ends. Hold this pose for about a minute or 10 to 20 breaths (d).

If you need the assistance of a strap: “Begin the pose with a strap draped over the shoulder of the bottom arm. As you swing the bottom arm behind your back, slide the forearm on the back torso as high as possible. Remember to keep the elbow close to your side to grab the bottom end of the strap,” Valdes-Mosier explains.

RELATED: 5 Standing Desk Stretches to Relieve Stress

Photo: Tiffany Ayuda / Life by Daily Burn

3. Devotional Warrior

You can clasp your fingers together behind your back and lean forward or extend your arms straight behind you. “Bringing your hands together helps you engage the shoulder blades and open the pectoral and deltoid muscles,” Valdes-Mosier says.

How to: Stand hip-distance apart on a yoga mat, then step your left foot back with your toes flat and slightly turned out. Your right heel should line up with your left arch (a). Lower your chest toward the floor with your right shoulder resting on the inside of your right knee. At the same time, extend your arms behind you with your palms facing the floor (b). Open your chest and shoulders as much as you can and hold this pose for 10-20 breaths (c). Lift your chest, and as you exhale, release your hands and return to the starting position (d).

RELATED: 15 Stretches You Should Do Every Damn Day

Photo: Tiffany Ayuda / Life by Daily Burn

4. Scorpion Stretch

As much as this pose is a stretch for your shoulders, it’s also good for releasing tension in the lumbar and thoracic spine, Valdes-Mosier says. “This pose directly rings out tension in fascia (connective tissue fibers under our skin) around the shoulder.” If you don’t feel comfortable with your knees bent in front of you, Valdes-Mosier says you can stack them to one side, like a supine twist.

How to: On a yoga mat, lie on your back with your knees bent in front of you and your hands at your sides (a). Twist the right side of your body, and sweep your right arm across the left side of your body. Bring your gaze to the left side of your body with your right hand flat on the floor to deepen the stretch. Your left shoulder should rest on the floor (b). Your lower body should remain squared and rooted on the floor (c). Hold this pose for 10-20 breaths (d).

RELATED: 7 Beginner Yoga Poses to Get You Through Your First Class

Photo: Tiffany Ayuda / Life by Daily Burn

5. Dolphin

Unlike a high-plank or downward dog, the dolphin pose can help take pressure off of your wrists, which sometimes transfers up to your arms, Valdes-Mosier says. “This pose is a great way to stretch the outer bicep, deltoids and triceps. It creates openness in the heart space and shoulder blades,” Valdes-Mosier says. “This pose also creates stability in the shoulder girdle.”

How to: From the downward dog position, kneel and bring your elbows down to the floor with your hands flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart (a). Keeping your arms parallel, curl your toes under to lift your legs off of the floor (b). Bring your shoulders over your elbows and press down on your forearms to lift your shoulders away from the elbows. Your shoulders should stack above your elbows, not behind them (c). Press down on your heels to engage your thighs and stretch the hamstrings. Hold for 10-20 breaths (d).

 

This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.

The Olympics Have Finally Recognized Cheerleading as a Sport

Well, it looks like the sports world is starting to take note of the serious nature of cheerleading: The Olympics have officially recognized cheerleading as a sport. FINALLY! Take that, haters!

Anyone who was a cheerleader in high school—or anyone who has seen Bring It On—knows how serious of a sport cheerleading is. It takes incredible strength and coordination to execute the lifts, twirls, and dance moves that cheerleaders perform on football fields and basketball courts across the country.

But of course, sexism has pushed a lot of negative stereotypes towards these athletes, moving to discredit any kind of recognition that they would otherwise be getting.

That’s why it such a big deal that The International Olympic Committee’s executive board voted to officially recognize cheerleading as a sport—but there’s a catch.

The official recognition doesn’t mean that cheerleading will become a sport at the Olympics, but rather that cheerleading’s governing body (the International Cheer Union) will be able to receive more funding to better support its athletes.

This also means that the cheerleading governing board can petition to have cheerleading become an official Olympic sport in the future, so all hope isn’t lost on that front.

The ICU’s sports director, Kit McConnell, said that the sport’s “high youth appeal” was a strong factor in the Committee’s decision to recognize cheerleading. But whatever the factors, it’s high time that cheerleading was officially recognized for the sport that it is.

 

This article originally appeared on HelloGiggles.com.

How Exercise Makes Your Job Less Stressful

Stress can be detrimental to your health, contributing to everything from higher blood pressure to nausea. Now, a new study zeroes in one of the the biggest sources of stress—our jobs—and suggests that exercise may be an effective way to ease the health problems sometimes caused by work stress.

In a new report published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers looked at 200 Swedish workers and assessed their stress levels using the Nordic Questionnaire for Psychological and Social Factors at Work. The people were also evaluated for heart health by blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, and they also had their fitness levels assessed.

Researchers found that the people who were more stressed had higher levels of risk factors for heart disease. But the people who were more fit were less likely to have these risk factors. That mean people with high stress levels had higher levels of unhealthy cholesterol compared to stressed people who were more fit. Exercise may act as a buffer against some of the health risk factors that are known to be caused by too much stress, the authors argue. Since the people in the study were asked about their stress levels in general, and not work stress alone, the study also speaks to exercise’s ability to combat the overall effects of stress.

 

The researchers didn’t ask the people in the study whether exercise relieved their stress, but other studies suggest it does. “However, the paradox is that after a stressful day, people are more prone to engage in sedentary activities—most likely because these activities need less self-regulatory resources than exercise,” says study author Markus Gerber of University of Basel in Switzerland. “Thus, although exercise might be a good medicine against stress, it will only have an impact if ‘the pill’ is taken.”

More research is needed to determine whether there’s an ideal time to exercise for stress relief, but Gerber says some evidence suggests that the four-hour window after exercise is when fitness provides the most protection against stress.

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

The Best Quick Workouts You Can Do in Just 60 Seconds

We get it: Sometimes you just don't have enough time in the day for a 60-minute spin class or lengthy session at the gym. The good news, though, is that you can still work up a sweat even if you're traveling or having a crazed week at work. These super-quick moves from Alonzo Wilson, founder and director of training at Tone House in New York City, are designed to deliver maximum calorie burn in a short amount of time (think: less than a minute) so you can fit in a workout even on your busiest days. And as an added bonus, each of these challenging HIIT-inspired exercises can be done right in your living room and don't require any gear. Do just one or complete them in a sequence.

RELATED: A 10-Minute Total-Body Workout to Get Toned From Head to Toe

High Knees

For this move, simply run in place quickly, bringing right knee toward chest (A), then left knee (B). Continue for 60 seconds.

Butt Kicks

Run in place, kicking right heel up toward butt (A), followed by left heel (B). Continue for 60 seconds.

Hand-Release Push-Ups

Lie facedown; extend arms out (A). Pull hands in toward armpits (B), then place on floor near chest. Press up into a push-up (C). Lower back to "A" and repeat for 60 seconds.

Plank to Tuck Jump

From plank (A), bring left knee toward chest (B); return to plank. Jump legs forward into a squat (C). Jump up, bringing knees toward chest (D). Land in squat, then jump out to plank. Repeat move with right leg and continue for 60 seconds.

 

Pin all of these workouts for later:

best-one-minute-workouts

 

Illustrations by Jess Levinson

5 Streaming Workout Programs You Can Add to Your Amazon Prime Membership

Getting in shape from home is easier than ever with subscription services that let you stream workouts from your TV, smartphone, or tablet—and five of these services are available as affordable add-ons to an Amazon Prime membership. (And you thought free two-day shipping and Transparent were the only reasons to subscribe to Prime!) 

Each of the five channels has a unique mission, and targets different types of exercisers. You can try before you buy with a seven-day free trial—or you can read about my experience testing out one class from each channel. 

Acacia TV

The first add-on subscription I tried was AcaciaTV ($6.99 per month), which offers a massive number of videos broken down into a diverse set of categories: Interval Training, Pilates, Cardio, Core, and Dance, to name a few. The videos can also be broken down by ability level. Within each category there are a number of different classes that vary by instructor and type. 

For my first class, I chose Body Weight Strength Training for Beginners. The class wasn’t nearly as easy as the "beginner" rating would lead you to believe— I was sweating in the first five minutes. But the trainer was precise, clear, and encouraging, making the experience feel as engaging as a fitness class you'd take in person at a studio or gym. But unlike a typical class, we didn’t use any weights or gym equipment. Instead, the instructor took advantage of things everyone has at home, like a chair, to assist with exercises. By the end of the half-hour session, I felt the burn in every part of my body, and realized it's definitely possible to get an equally tough workout from a video as an in-person group class.

RELATED: Try Emily Skye's Lower Body Workout to Target Your Legs, Core, and Butt

BeFit TV

After a great experience with my first video workout class, I was pumped to try the next subscription option: BeFit TV, which costs $6.99 per month. I'll be honest, though—I wasn’t so crazy about the one class I tried: Brazilian Booty Burn. It had a Zumba feel to it, with an extremely energetic instructor. The class got my blood flowing, sure, but when I take a dance cardio class, I want to feel like I'm getting a challenging cardio workout. This class mostly consisted of hip and butt movement (and, to be honest, I was nervous my roommate would walk in and wonder why I was swinging my hips around in front of the TV), and it never really got my heart pumping fast. 

All that said, there are plenty of other exercise categories available on BeFit TV. In fact, it has a much more robust selection of categories than Acacia TV, including Cardio, Abs & Core, Dance Fitness, Body Sculpting & Strength, HIIT, Pilates & Barre, 10 Minutes or Less, and Beginner Workouts. Basically, there’s something for everyone—and there's a good chance that I just hit a stroke of bad luck with the one class I tested.

Gaia

The next subscription I downloaded, Gaia ($9.95 per month), was very different from the first two I tried. The only exercise videos offered are yoga and Pilates, but it also has guided meditations and documentaries. Categories include Inspirational Movies, Health & Longevity, seeking truth, 5-20 Minute Workouts, and 30-60 Minute Workouts. 

I tried Gaia's Yoga Everyday class, which placed more emphasis on spirituality than fitness. I finished my class feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

iIf you're looking for a variety of fitness content and at-home workouts, I’d definitely skip Gaia. But if you want to participate in meditative practices and learn more about health and wellness, it’s the perfect program.

RELATED: 25-Minute Core-Strengthening Vinyasa Flow

Grokker Yoga + Fitness

The following week I downloaded Grokker Yoga + Fitness ($6.99 per month), which focuses on both fitness and nutrition, with simple categories like Yoga, HIIT, and Healthy Eating. I loved that unlike the other subscriptions, Grokker offers more than just workouts—it also has healthy food and cooking videos.

I was immediately drawn to the food videos because of the many interesting recipes they featured, such as almond acai balls, Korean soft tacos, quinoa muffins, and gluten-free crepes. I decided to try out a recipe for zucchini pasta with basil sauce. After gathering all the ingredients, I flew through the video with ease, since the instructor was so clear with directions. I actually enjoyed the cooking process and the zoodles turned out delicious!

As a twenty-something trying to learn how to cook more nutritious and fun dinners, I was a big fan of this subscription. That said, I think Grokker is also a great option for people of any age looking to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. It’s not a personalized plan by any means, but the combo of healthy eats and consistent workouts is a recipe for success.

RELATED: The 5 Best Nutrition Apps According to RDs

FitFusion TV

The last add-on subscription I tried was FitFusion TV ($4.99 per month), which offers hundreds of exercise videos from fitness superstars like Jillian Michaels. The videos are grouped by the celeb instructors, as well as categories like 10 Minutes or Less, 15-30 Minute Workouts, and 30-60 Minute Workouts.

Although this subscription doesn't offer as much video variety as BeFit, Acacia TV, and Grokker, the fact that Michaels is featured makes up for it, in my opinion. I tried her “One Week Shred” class, which proved to be the classic high-intensity Michaels workout I was craving. It was only 20 minutes long, but the heart-pumping cardio and Michaels’ patented tough-but-encouraging demeanor left me sweating through my shirt and feeling the burn in all of my leg muscles (even ones I didn’t realize I had!).

The subscription also features a section of Tae Bo workouts—a unique combination of boxing and tae kwon do, created and taught by fitness guru Billy Blanks. Tae Bo was a huge fitness fad in the '90s, but these workouts really do work up a sweat. So if you want to try a throwback workout, there are plenty of classes available, taught by Blanks himself.

Why Crawling Is the Ultimate Total-Body Exercise

When you think of crawling, you probably think of adorable little rugrats. But according to Mayo Clinic physical therapist Danielle Johnson, crawling is an essential move for grown-ups too.

She actually does it every day—and she’s not alone. Health and fitness experts are raving about the benefits of crawling, and other so-called fundamental movements.

Squatting, jumping, running, hanging, balancing—they all fall into the same category. Essentially, fundamental movements are things we master as kids, but stop doing as we age. And that’s a shame because these activities engage our muscles in perfectly natural ways.

Despite the recent buzz, crawling and other “natural” exercises shouldn’t be considered a fad or the latest craze, says Johnson. “Instead, they’re a return to some of the most fundamental fitness patterns.” Below, she gives three more reasons to join the rugrats.

RELATED: 11 Best Exercises to Get Strong, Toned Arms

Crawling tones all over

It engages your calves, quads, glutes, shoulder girdle, deep abdominal muscles, and muscles in your hips and feet. There are multiple variations on the basic form, too, says Johnson. Aside from crawling on your hands and knees, you can crawl on your hands and toes, or even facing up, in a crab crawl. No matter which type you choose, you'll be working your whole body.

Crawling builds strength for real life

Unlike many traditional fitness moves, crawling actually involves moving—and that’s important. Compare it to the classic plank, for example. Plank is a great way to engage your core, but it’s not something you ever do in the course of an average day. “It’s not as applicable to real life,” says Johnson. “In real life, we move.”

That’s one reason she's been using crawling and other fundamental movements with her PT clients for years: “Getting our bodies to move through full ranges of motion, and getting them to stabilize and hold a movement, is protective against back and shoulder pain.”

What’s more, crawling and other fundamental movements “can help us feel well and whole,” she says. While running on a treadmill is great cardio, being able to support your weight is just as important.  “If you can run a six-minute mile, but you can’t play around with your kids because you’re unable to squat down or climb with them, is your fitness regime [helping you] do the things you ultimately want to do?” says Johnson. 

“I do [fundamental movements] every single day because I really believe [they] will protect my body as I get older, and let me continue to do the things I love doing,” she says.

RELATED: 5 Butt Exercises That Will Reinvent Your Rear

You don't need a gym to crawl

Johnson doesn't like to label crawling a "workout"—because it's not something that has to be done at the gym, or during a scheduled block of time. You can crawl around any time (say, when you're playing with your dog or cat on the floor).

This goes for other fundamental movements too: “I always tell people that they can integrate jumping, running, hanging, climbing, or crawling into a very effective workout, but they can also just be done at home," says Johnson. “If you have 10 minutes in your day to get on the floor and crawl, or work on your mobility—even just by jumping up your stairs—it can have tremendous protective value on your body."

Of course, not every activity is for everybody. Modifications can be made to most fundamental movements, but it’s best to skip anything that causes pain. “Listen to your body and make sure that it feels good to you," says Johnson. And if your doctor has advised you to avoid certain types of exercise, check with her before you try a new activity, she adds.

To learn more about fundamental movements, check out this video from the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program

 

7 Functional Movement Patterns Trainers Want You to Master

Squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge, twist, and walk: These make up the seven movement patterns that your body relies on to get ish done every day. And not just during a workout. Think about how you pull a box off a shelf, squat down to pick something up, or walk around all day.

But these movements have deeper roots in our wellbeing, says holistic coach and certified strength and conditioning specialist Jator Pierre, CSCS. To get the full picture, you’ve got to go back—way back. “If you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, we’d have to use all of these movement patterns to survive,” he says. Lunging to hunt, squatting to make a fire, or pushing to throw a spear. Today, life looks, well, very different. You probably spend much of your day hunched over at your desk, which compromises your ability to perform these very movement patterns.

RELATED: The 15 Most Underrated Exercises, According to Trainers

“If you can’t perform these movements correctly, your body thinks you have a lower ability to survive,” explains Pierre. Obviously, that’s not the case any longer. No one is asking you to spear your dinner when you could just get Whole Foods hot bar tonight. Still, because your body hasn’t yet caught up to modern day times, the inability to correctly move boosts stress—and thus inflammation. So, yeah, it’s a big deal.

There’s no time like the present to get these movement patterns on point. How do you fare? Try the seven self-assessment tests below, plus get tips to help you step your game up.

7 Functional Movement Patterns to Master STAT

1. Squat

Test Yourself: Lower into a squat, hips back, knees tracking over ankles and heels planted on the ground. Ideally, you would be able to lower into a full squat with your hips almost touching your heels. If you feel joint restriction as you go down, you may have a musculoskeletal imbalance, like tight calves.
Make It Better: Put a stability ball behind your back against a wall for support and lower down (it should feel pain-free). Also, tell yourself to “sit” instead of “squat,” which can help you maintain the right position throughout the move. (Also check out these seven tips to improve strength, depth and mobility in your squat.)

RELATED: 6 Squat Variations for Total-Body Strength

2. Lunge

Test Yourself: For the forward lunge, step forward with one foot and bend your back knee until it’s almost touching the ground. Are your knees and ankles stable—or are they shaking around? Does your knee drop in or out away from your body? Are you hunched over and unable to hold your chest or head up? Those are all indications that something is wrong with your lunge.
Make It Better: Watch yourself in a mirror to look for the deficiencies above, and practice lowering only half way down. Once you’ve mastered that, you can practice the bottom half of the movement—then put it all together. Also, be sure to stretch tight hamstrings, glutes and calves on the regular. (For starters, here are 15 stretches you should do every day.)

RELATED: 3 Fat-Blasting HIIT Workouts to Try Now

3. Push

Test Yourself: Get into a push-up position, lower your body to the ground and push back up. If you crunch over (head jutting out and shoulders rounding over) or your lower back sags, that’s a sign of lack of stability in your core and weakness in the stabilizing muscles of your back and pelvis.
Make It Better: First, work on holding high plank position (the top of your push-up) to build strength and stability. (When in doubt, check out these form tips.) From there, you can progress to a variety of push-up modifications—from wall push-ups to knee push-ups—before moving on to your toes.

RELATED: This Is How to Do the Perfect Push-Up (Even on Your Knees) 

Photo: Twenty20

4. Pull

Test Yourself: Now, for the ultimate bodyweight challenge: the pull-up. Find a bar at the gym and try a pull-up (palms facing out) or chin-up (palms facing in). Chances are, if strength isn’t an issue, this movement will reveal some postural issues, too. “People tend to go into a dysfunctional posture,” says Pierre. That means at the top of the movement, shoulders are forward, spine is rounded, head is tucked in. (Not too different than what poor posture looks like seated at your desk.) This, to say the least, is the wrong mechanics, and it can reinforce this “hunching” position in your everyday life. Not only can that contribute to back pain, it can also inhibit breathing.
Make It Better: Start with other pulling exercises to build strength. For example, do horizontal bar reverse pulls (also called an inverted row). Using a bar that’s close to the ground, lie under the bar with feet straight out in front of you. Grab the bar and pull your chest up to the bar.

RELATED: How to Do a Pull-Up (Or Add More Reps)

5. Hinge

Test Yourself: It’s one of the toughest movements to master, but for that reason it can be the most rewarding. Grab a weighted bar or a dumbbell in each hand and attempt a deadlift (here’s how). Your feet should be wider than shoulder-distance apart as you hinge forward from your hips with a straight back to pull the weight up from the floor. Many people perform this with straight legs, but your knees should be bent 15 to 20 degrees in order for glutes to turn on and support your pelvis and spine, says Pierre. If you don’t feel this move fire up your glutes, your knees aren’t bent enough. It can also reveal a muscle imbalance, most commonly too-strong quads and weak glutes.
Make It Better: Start by practicing hip extensions on the floor (get on your hands and knees and raise one leg up behind you) to build up glute strength. These five glute bridge variations are also worth working into your routine.

RELATED: Are You Foam Rolling All Wrong?

6. Twist

Test Yourself: To assess your trunk rotation, start with a bodyweight wood chop. Stand with feet a bit further than shoulder width apart, bending knees slightly and keeping your chest up. Lift arms diagonally across your body toward the ceiling and bring them down to the opposite side of the body. Look at your ankles: Are they stable with feet flat on the floor or does the ball of your foot roll up? Can you maintain proper posture (chest up, spine straight) throughout the move? Do you feel any pain? (You shouldn’t.) If any of these issues rear their ugly heads, a rotational deficiency is likely to blame.
Make It Better: First, go for a lateral ball roll. Lay with your back on a stability ball with feet wide on the ground, holding a very lightweight bar across your chest. Take one step to the right with your right leg and step in with your left (you should roll slightly to your right). Repeat on the left side. If you feel the stabilizer muscles in your core light up, you’re doing it right.

RELATED: The Ab Moves You Aren’t Doing (But Should!)

7. Gait

Test Yourself: Sure, you walk every day—but how’s your posture while you do it? Is your head pushing forward from your collarbones? Are your shoulders rounded forward? Walk forward in front of a mirror. Does one foot flare out to the side just a bit? Or do your hips shake from side-to-side (particularly when you run)? That can signal an imbalance, a problem with hip mobility or a dysfunction in your core.
Make It Better: Awareness is half the battle with this one. As you move through space, draw your attention to bringing your shoulders back, chest up and feet pointed forward with each step.

RELATED: Is Your Mobility Holding You Back? The Functional Movement Screen

Making Every Movement Count

Since these essential movement patterns have such deep roots in your health and how you feel every day, Pierre suggests going back to the basics. He recommends Paul Chek’s book, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! because it provides additional tests you can take, such as a stretching and core test. By relearning how to move properly, not only will you help protect your body from injury, you’ll take strides toward reducing undue stress and inflammation. We’ve only got one body—so why not make moves to treat it right?

 

This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.